• Mon. Feb 26th, 2024


ByTaylor Carlson

Apr 30, 2023

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 is directed by James Gunn. The film stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn, Chukwudi Iwuji, Will Poulter, Elizabeth Debicki, Maria Bakalova, and Sylvester Stallone. It’s film 32 in the MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE.

The Guardians of the Galaxy have long been traveling together, doing jobs and fighting the forces of evil. While preparing to settle down in Knowhere and establish a base and steady home, things take a shocking turn when an attack by the mysterious Adam Warlock leaves Rocket Raccoon on death’s door, prompting the Guardians to spring into action again, finding themselves squaring off against a villain with ties to Rocket’s past, with a goal of rewriting the universe as he sees fit, by any means necessary.

Back in 2014, nearly a decade ago, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY took audiences and critics by storm. Marvel Studios took a chance on a relatively obscure property, and the film version became a surprise hit. The 2017 follow-up didn’t quite capture the same thunder, but was still a perfectly enjoyable film. Characters from the group appeared in other MCU films, most notably the duology of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and ENDGAME. Audiences were surely wondering when we’d get another GUARDIANS films, rather than just them being guests in bigger ensemble casts.

At long last we have VOL. 3. The actors playing the Guardians are as strong as ever in their performances, and there are certainly interesting moments. However, the final product is aimless, not sure of what it wants to be, with lackluster action sequences and a questionable outcome despite a few decent dramatic scenes. It’s good, but not great. The tone is all over the place, and even though a great deal of effort clearly went into the final product, it falls well short of the past two installments.

I never would’ve asked to see clips of Rocket Raccoon’s backstory, but the flashback scenes throughout VOL. 3 are easily its strongest quality. Seeing the young raccoon being genetically modified and tossed into a cage with abominations who look like they could’ve come from Sid’s room in TOY STORY gives us some interesting backstory, showing how our favorite furry character became the hardened creature he is. James Gunn and the producers seemed to be unclear if they wanted to make a GUARDIANS sequel or a Rocket Raccoon prequel/solo film. Perhaps they should’ve fully fleshed out the latter; it would’ve been more entertaining than the end result.

If nothing else, the actors playing the Guardians of the Galaxy are as good as ever. Witty quips are around every corner; I saw this film in small IMAX theater with just other critics as well as CinemaCon attendees visiting Vegas for that event, and laughter was in no small quantity. They’ve grown into these roles and make them their own. The IMAX screen was great for big, bold, colorful action sequences, which the movie tries its hand at on more than a few occasions.

Unfortunately, it’s all over the place tonally. The earlier GUARDIANS film succeeded because they were witty and remained lighthearted even in the face of danger and certain doom. The tone here is much darker, and it feels so far removed from what came before. A handful of more violent and dark moments truly felt out of place. MCU movies are always rated PG-13, but there are several scenes that are considerably less family-friendly that much of what has come before in the universe.

If there’s one true weakness of the MCU, it’s that it rarely creates compelling and memorable villains. Adam Warlock was teased at the end of the previous GUARDIANS film, but he’s barely in the movie at all. His scenes could’ve been cut and no one would’ve noticed. Will Poulter, the man playing this part, does it well enough, but he needed more screen time and fleshing out. The High Evolutionary has an interesting premise and motive, and if this guy have been in more than one film, could easily have been fleshed out as a Thanos-level “big bad” in the MCU, but condensing this guy’s role to one movie means he never gets to do much other than yell at his subordinates a lot and fight with our heroes. Like so much of the MCU, VOL. 3 once again fails to create a worthwhile villain.

Pacing also takes a hit in the third installment. The 2 ½ hour running time is excessive and unnecessary. Tighter editing was needed here, and while I appreciate a small-scale story in the MCU as much as the next person, the film ultimately doesn’t carry the weight that it should. There are some tear-jerking dramatic moments, but not as much of it lands as it should. Potential tragedies are always conveniently diffused.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3 has a great cast and big production values, but it pales in comparison to earlier installments, which had more memorable plotlines and situations, not to mention superior pacing and villains. The actors are as good as ever, but they can’t rise above what’s a tonally inconsistent film that doesn’t leave the lasting memories that it should. It’s a good but not great addition to the MCU. Wait for this one to hit streaming.

By Taylor Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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